I am a winter person. I love cold sunny days, warming hot pots and knee-high boots. I wouldn't be seen dead in shorts, hate the way sand gets into everything and don't own a pair of jandals.
Yet since moving from the Northern Hemisphere to New Zealand, now I am glad to see the back of winter. Because, unless you live in a brand new home, it is often colder inside the house than outside.
Draughts around the windows and cheap curtains are blamed for high power usage and bills for poor families by New Zealand Federation of Family Budgeting Services chief executive Raewyn Fox in today's report on power prices on page A7.
Many of us live in these homes. In fact, older 40s and 50s house are sought after by the richer designer set much like the Auckland villas are loved by the likes of the Ridges even though they are the colder than a polar bear's bottom.
Rising electricity costs are not just the concern of the poor but most New Zealanders.
While not quite at the resort of using candles and a mangle for my washing, with six people in the house we have to be careful. I refuse to turn the heat pump on, any shower hoggers get the cold tap turned on them to turf them out, and I schlep around the house with a dressing gown over my clothes.
Consumers expect prices for services to rise over time. But the cost of power is increasing at a rate putting pressure on family budgets.
In the past year, an annual Bay of Plenty consumer's electricity bill has jumped by up to $175. New Zealand's two million power consumers faced an average 5.4 per cent increase in their bills in the past year.
July's power price survey from the Ministry of Economic Development showed some households in the Western Bay are paying 14 per cent more for their power than the same time last year. With tough financial conditions, people on fixed incomes are unlikely to have received similar increases.
Are these price hikes justified? Electricity Authority chief executive Carl Hansen says they are, as price rises as demand increases which he says is the reality of a natural resource-based industry. The power companies say the latest increase is justified due to grid maintenance costs. And, of course, what they don't say is that they want to make profits.
Fair enough but we also want fair pricing.
What is encouraging is that promoting competition in the retail electricity market can make a difference. Until reading our report today, I had never heard of What's My Number - the Government initiative to help New Zealanders make more informed choices about their electricity suppliers.
It was incredible to me to learn that there were 885,659 visitors to the What's My Number website from June to August, resulting in 490,117 households switching power companies. An international survey found that almost a fifth of us switched power companies last year.
What does that tell you? Being informed and shopping around can not only save you money as an individual, but if enough consumers show a willingness to swap companies it may encourage more competition and help turn the tide on power price hikes.
I will be jumping on this site at the weekend. It's www.whatsmynumber.org.nz Do your good deed for the day and offer to help an elderly neighbour or technophobe check out their bill too.
Power to the people.